9 November 2012

Namibia: Obama Has Work Cut Out for Him

TONY Deaton, the public affairs officer at the American embassy in Windhoek, says they do not anticipate major foreign policy changes in President Barack Obama’s second term.

However, Deaton says, it is customary that during a second term the president and his foreign policy team examine and evaluate existing policies.

This is to establish whether any adjustments to the policies are necessary, Deaton says.

Seeing that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has indicated that she wants to leave after the first term ends, her successor would work with Obama to shape foreign policy over the next four years, the spokesperson says.

According to him, Obama’s administration “will remain deeply engaged with Africa in his second term and build on the many Africa-related initiatives of his first term.”

Obama has come under fire from many Africans who feel he has not done enough for the continent.

Deaton says the June 2012 White House Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa will be an important guiding document for Obama.

He says the main principles of the document are to strengthen democracies and boost economic growth, trade and investment.

Also, the strategy is aimed at advancing peace and security and promoting opportunity and development, Deaton says.

Cooperation between the Namibian and the American governments will continue, the spokesperson says.

“Our main areas of emphasis here in Namibia have been in HIV and AIDS interventions, improving educational resources, developing the agricultural sector and helping Namibia build up its tourism sector.”

According to him, the American government has pumped about N$7,74 billion into Namibia since 2004.

This has primarily come from the American President’s Emergency Fund for AIDS Relief and the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA).

Deaton admits that “there are always challenges on a local, regional and global level that need to be addressed and that shape our policies”.

Increasing economic growth, creating new jobs and addressing poverty and inequalities are some of the long-term hurdles which Obama’s government needs to deal with, he says.

“We will continue to address these challenges through support to organisations such as the AU (African Union) and SADC (Southern African Development Community), as well as through bilateral programmes.”

But, he says, political stability is a necessity for sustainable development.

The United States is determined to help resolve the crisis in Mali and supports the stabilisation in Somalia, he says.

In Namibia, the US “will be working in the coming years to help the Namibian government take full country ownership of its HIV-AIDS interventions and to ensure that the MCA programme continues to be implemented as successfully over the next few years as it has been over the last two years.”

Prime Minister Nahas Angula this week said he hoped Obama would respect Africa more during his second term.

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